In a no-brainer move, the Phillies have declined their $4.5 million option on reliever J.C. Romero for 2011. He’ll get a $250,000 buyout instead.
Philadelphia signed Romero to a three-year, $12 million deal after he posted a 1.24 ERA in 36 innings down the stretch in 2006. He was reasonably solid in Year 1 of the contract, posting a 2.75 ERA despite 38 walks in 59 innings, but then missed most of last season thanks to a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs followed by an elbow injury.
He returned to appear in 60 games this season, but managed to pitch a total of just 36.2 innings in part because the Phillies used him mostly as a left-handed specialist and in part because he couldn’t throw strikes consistently. Romero walked 29 batters in 36.2 frames, which makes him very tough to rely on in key spots despite his remaining very effective versus left-handed bats.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.